A former Sinn Fein mayor has apologised after sending a constituent a profanity-laced email advising them to “stay the f*** at home”.
Garath Keating, a councillor on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, included his fellow councillors in the response to a query about recycling centres and parks.
He subsequently sent another email apologising to the constituent and his council colleagues.
The closure of recycling centres has generated controversy in Northern Ireland after Mid and East Antrim Borough Council broke ranks with the other 10 councils in the region and decided to reopen the facilities. Councils have also adopted differing policies in respect of opening parks.
In his email response to a constituent who had raised the issue, Mr Keating wrote: “The general advice across the board is for people to STAY THE F*** AT HOME!!”
Further in the email, he said: “I know people want to clear out their stuff, I know there are some irresponsible c***s who think its acceptable to throw their rubbish about the place and that is hugely unfortunate – but the importance of the advice to STAY THE F*** AT HOME ultimately takes precedence over both as it quite literally is a matter of life and death.”
Councillor Garath Keating has apologised for language used and any offence caused in a response to a constituentSinn Fein spokesman
The councillor later sent a follow-up email apologising for the use of “unprofessional language”.
He said he had gone a “bit too far in making the point” but added that the issue was “something I feel particularly strongly about in the current climate given the awful impact this pandemic is having across the borough”.
He concluded: “Hope I have not caused you any offence.”
A Sinn Fein spokesman later said: “Councillor Garath Keating has apologised for language used and any offence caused in a response to a constituent.
“Sinn Fein’s position remains that people should continue to follow guidelines on social distancing and stay at home to help save lives.”
Portadown DUP councillor Darren Causby said the initial email from Mr Keating was “downright ill-mannered”.
“It is right that an apology has been issued,” he said.
“Councillors may have deep feelings about these matters, but we must always keep our discourse civilised and professional.
“Regardless of what party background, no councillor should be responding to a constituent in that manner.
“It was deeply inappropriate and just downright ill-mannered, regardless of how strongly anyone feels.”